This information is provided by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD).
Gastroschisis is a birth defect that occurs when a baby’s intestines extend outside of the body through a hole next to the belly button. This type of defect is known as an abdominal wall defect. Sometimes other organs are also involved. The exact cause of a gastroschisis is usually not known, but it is more common in babies born to young mothers or to mothers who may have used alcohol or tobacco during their pregnancies. Gastroschisis is typically diagnosed on routine ultrasound examinations before a baby is born. These babies may need to be born in hospitals with specialists who are experienced in treating gastroschisis. Treatment includes a special kind of surgery that gradually returns the intestines to the abdomen (silo repair). Prognosis depends primarily on the degree of injury to the bowel, and on the presence of other birth defects. Though long-term outcomes for babies born with simple gastroschisis are generally good, some children may have problems with digestion later in life.
Complications from gastroschisis can include intestinal problems, breathing difficulties, and infection. Some cases of gastroschisis may resolve in utero, with closure of the hole of the abdominal wall, resulting in strangulation and destruction of the herniated bowel (vanishing gastroschisis or vanishing gut syndrome), and very short-bowel syndrome. Other complications include incomplete bowel (atresia), destruction (necrosis), perforation or twisting (volvulos). The prognosis of these cases is poor, but detecting these problems during pregnancy (antenatal diagnosis) and having fetal intervention may improve the outcome in the future.
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